Building to a Crescendo

Dallas Opera was once the toast of the nation. Now it is reaching for that high note again.

As the company aches to move ahead and present new operas and newly conceived productions, there's also pressure that the repertoire stick with the classics, like following up Argento's Valentino with Verdi's Rigoletto and its songs, which "everybody knows," as Jenkins says.

"There is a mystique to opera," Karayanis said. "And you want to preserve that. The more that one sort of greases the skids for [more people] to make the [financial] commitment...that's what we have to do."

The challenge for the Dallas Opera is to balance the conflicts between maintaining the mystique and glory of the art and attracting a broader, younger audience.

"Let's talk about Dallas," Jenkins says. "This city is founded in 1841. Two years later, Verdi is penning Nabucco. Ten years later, he had written Travatore, Rigoletto, Stefelio, and Traviata. It had been so much a part of European life. Here, people were still trying to build a log cabin."

And 150 years later, in many ways, they still are.

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